Monday, March 15, 2021

Sydney’s Second Airport’s CEO Eyes Nonstop Flights To India

Sydney’s second airport is still five years from completion, and many consider the ambitious infrastructure project a potential white elephant. But the airport’s CEO refutes that suggestion. He thinks Sydney’s second airport has enormous potential, and he’s already eyeing potential destinations, including India.

Western Sydney Airport is a multi-billion dollar project underway 45 kilometers west of Sydney’s downtown. The airport is due to receive its first flights in 2026, however, the grand vision sees work continuing until mid-century.

The second airport, which has been decades in the making, has long courted controversy, especially among the harbor and beach hugging Sydney residents who prefer the convenience of Sydney’s existing airport.

But Western Sydney Airport CEO, Simon Hickey, reckons his new airport will lure plenty of people. He says within a 60-minute drive of Western Sydney Airport is the third largest population catchment in Australia. And not just any population catchment. Speaking to Tourism Australia’s Phillipa Harrison last week, Mr Hickey said western Sydney was home to over 200 nationalities, and that gave his new airport a serious competitive edge.

Roughly 2.5 million people live in western Sydney, of which nearly half were born overseas. Mr Hickey thinks this market will be key to Western Sydney Airport’s initial success.

“In terms of tourism, 25% of all international traffic is the VFR (visiting friends and relatives) market. But some of those markets, like India, are 55%.

“I think that will be one of the significant drivers of our airport in the early days.

“India is a good example. There’s a very large Indian community in here in western Sydney, and I can’t imagine that we won’t be flying direct traffic there in the future.”

It’s not just India Simon Hickey is eyeing. With so many nationalities living within the airport’s catchment area and so many markets unserved from Sydney’s existing airport, he sees a lot of scope for international operations out of Western Sydney Airport.

“What we’ll see is the opening up of new opportunities and new markets,” he says.

15/03/21 Andrew Curran/Simple Flying

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